Thursday 21 January 2010

Legal academic pens hard-hitting rejection of assisted suicide guidance

Dr Jacqueline Laing (pictured), a legal academic, has written a hard-hitting article in the Solicitors Journal against the director of public prosecutions (DPP)'s guidance on assisted suicide. Among other things, Dr Laing says in her article:
  • "[T]he guidance is unconstitutional, arbitrary and at odds with human rights law"
  • "[A]n alteration in the substance of the law is precisely what is envisaged by the guidance"
  • "Of the factors outlined against prosecution, many – for example, that the victim had a severe and incurable physical disability – are observably at odds with the demands of non-discrimination (articles 2 and 14 [of the Human Rights Act]) and the equal dignity principle."
  • "The inclusion of the factor that the suspect had previously attempted suicide also prompts the suspicion that the most vulnerable and depressed are being discriminated against."
  • "Nowhere else in the criminal law does the motive of ‘compassion’ as distinct from involuntariness, a defence which affects human control, operate to exculpate"
  • "[E]uthanasia, whether de jure or de facto, erodes respect for the value of human life, undermines the goals of medicine, endangers the vulnerable and imperils those who may indeed be a burden to others"
  • "Once this unconstitutional and illegal guidance becomes normalised, financial, scientific and medical interests will incentivise what can only be described as homicidal practice."
It is interesting to note that the criteria in the DPP's guidance is the same as the criteria in the bill proposed by Margo Macdonald before the Scottish parliament. I'm reliably informed that Mrs Macdonald will be launching her bill this morning at a press conference.

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